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Interesting viewpoint of Simon Sinek about the challenges faced by young people entering the workforce. Certainly some controversial comments relating to ‘bad parenting strategies’ which will get many talking. Although focused on the millenial context, I think there are some very good points made about how to develop skills around building positive relationships, leadership, resilience skills, emotional intelligence and patience which are relevant for every age group and every workplace!

The clip goes for about 15 minutes and is very thought provoking.

Interested in short courses in leadership skills, emotional intelligence and resilience building?  Click here for more information.

To watch please click here

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If you are like me, this is a great time to catch up on the latest research conducted during the year. I had flagged this landmark government funded report by the Study of Australian Leadership Group from the University of Melbourne and Centre for Workplace Leadership, ‘Leadership at Work: Do Australian leaders have what it takes?” mainly because of the spirited commentary it generated when it was released late in the year!

The report questions whether Australian leaders are up for the challenge of ‘slow economic growth globally…rate of technological change’ which are disrupting traditional business models along with a ‘seismic shift in the competitive and regulatory environment.’ The report used surveys of over 8000 people on which to base their findings. One source of the controversy arose from the section on ‘Significant gaps and weaknesses in Australia’s leadership and management.’ (Exec summary p. 8)

Peter Wilson, AM, AHRI Chairman takes exception to some of the findings, particularly in relation to the way public sector and private sector targets are  set and measured, the failure to ‘disentangle leadership from other core drivers of performance’ and how often senior leaders access external information and advice. To read both viewpoints, please go to:
for the full report

If you are looking for short courses to develop your leadership skills or for formal leadership roles in investigation management or emergency management please get in touch

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An article out this week by Bianca Healy discusses toxic workplaces with as many as 9 out of 10 people indicating that they have had experience with either ‘toxic’ individuals or cultures. Certainly when conducting organisational investigations it is a term commonly used by all the stakeholders and it generates a great deal of emotion and strong opinions of what is and what isn’t ‘toxic’ behaviour.

Healey says, based on the research conducted by those surveyed that ”everything rises and falls on leadership.” Certainly leaders can ”set a tone” either through their own behaviours where they reinforce aggressive and manipulative conduct.

Or leaders can perpetuate toxic cultures by ignoring behaviours and failing to hold to account those team members who undermine workplace harmony and respectful attitudes. This unfortunately validates individual negative behaviours and leads to an entrenched culture which can be very damaging but also resistant to later efforts to improve workplace conduct and attitudes.

A real test of leadership is where you inherit a toxic workplace. Why can some leaders turn this around? I would love to hear your experiences of how this was done. What worked? What didn’t?

Click below for the Healey article:
HRM Debate: What are the best ways to fight toxic workplace culture?

ACIM Solutions offers a range of programs and services to manage and investigative ‘toxic’ workplace cultures.  Please get in touch if you would like more information on investigating workplace bullying or short courses to upskill staff on emotional intelligence, resilience and leadership.

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Anyone who has been in the workforce for more than a few months has probably endured the phenomenon of ‘death by PowerPoint’. 

It’s a peculiar form of torture where audiences are held captive (often in a darkened room) by one of their own colleagues or another person with links to the organisation.

Once all available exits have been secured, the ‘presenter’ begins to talk and exhibit slides crammed with too much information, tiny fonts and bad clip art. On an on it goes, until all eyes have glazed over and collectively, the audience has lost the will to live.

Although speaking in front of others is a well-known source of anxiety, the ability to prepare and deliver a high quality presentation is undoubtedly a direct reflection on your professionalism. How you prepare, how you communicate and engage others are all important factors in creating a positive impression from the opportunity. 

So how can we break this cycle of cruelty and avoid causing unnecessary suffering to others?

Here are our best tips for giving an unforgettable presentation – for all the right reasons!

1.  Know your audience. 

Who’s going to be there and why? Are there any ‘hot button’ issues you need to know about and either directly acknowledge or avoid it (eg major IT system failures, a new CEO etc). What motivates this crowd?  What do they care about? Focus on how the presentation is relevant to them.

2.  Know your topic

Is your material current, relevant and useful to this audience? Anticipate what types of questions you might be asked, especially the hard ones, and think about how you will respond, before you’re under the spotlight.

3. Visit the room beforehand. 

Confirm the size is right and lighting and ventilation works properly. What audio-visual equipment will you need? 

4. Practise, practise, practise. 

There’s nothing like a rambling speaker to put an audience off.  And once that OFF switch has been flicked, good luck trying to get it back ON again.  Practise what you want to say and do it out loud

5.  Get there early.

You are not Madonna. Allow for the possibility that you could get caught in traffic or that an unforeseen problem may delay you. The last thing you want is to be feeling panicked or flustered when it is your turn to speak.

6.  Try not using PowerPoint.

 Or use it in a very limited way. Other options can include:  sending out content beforehand, photographs, short video clips, music, props, samples, brief handouts or get audience members involved in relevant demonstrations? You might even want to try new cloud-based software tools like Prezi. We all have shorter attention spans these days (that’s right, down from 12 minutes a decade ago to five minutes now) so get creative and mix up your media!

7.  Think about your posture and body language. 

Stand up straight and really ‘own’ the space around you. Don’t cling to the lectern like it’s a life raft.  Move around and/or use props or hand gestures if you need to make a strong point.

8. Make eye contact with the audience. 

You need to do this before, during and after your presentation. Remember to scan the room and smile, without staring at any one individual for too long.

9. Start with a good story. 

Ideally it should be something your audience can relate to – and all the better if it is amusing.  Barrack Obama is a master or the amusing anecdote.  Many TED talk speakers also use this technique.

10.  Speak at a normal pace and remember to pause. 

Ifyouspeaktoofastitmakesitharderforthe audiencetounderstandwhatyou’resaying! The average speaking speed is is between 110 and 150 words per minute. Time yourself when you are practising out loud and remember to pause periodically, e.g. before a particularly salient point.

11.  Use case studies.

 Real examples are infinitely more memorable than concepts and theories. If you are proposing a new way of approaching something, find out where else this has been tried. Did it work? Why or why not?  Remember that even negative results can be illuminating and relevant.

12.  Acknowledge and include opposing views. 

People want and deserve to be given a balanced view of important news and issues. Your presentation will have more credibility if you can show that you have analysed your subject thoroughly and looked at it from different angles.  One-sided presentations are just propaganda.

13.  Repeat your key message three times during your presentation

Try to do this in one sentence or less (i.e. three to ten words).  We live and work in a digital age where we are all bombarded with information, 24/7.  Never assume your message will sink in the first time people hear it.

14.  Use a memorable closing story and image. 

Your closing words and graphics are just as important as your opening ones, so make the effort to find ones that relate to your message or sums up the subject. 90 per cent of information transmitted to the brain is visual? Visual information is also processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than written words. Pictures are often remembered long after words and statistics have been forgotten.

15.  Stick to your time limit. 

Speaking overtime is rude to your audience, the host of the event and the presenter who follows you. Keep an eye on the clock during your talk and pace yourself so you can finish on time.


If you would like to know more about advanced communication, leadership skills or other training opportunities for yourself or your organisation, please contact us.


  • <http://executivespeechcoach.blogspot.com.au/2013/09/superior-presentations-71-how-many.html> 30 March 2016<http://www.inc.com/christina-desmarais/10-tips-on-giving-a-killer-presentation.html> viewed 30 March 2016
  • <http://www.forbes.com/sites/work-in-progress/2014/11/14/six-ways-to-avoid-death-by-powerpoint/#b83edcd34cbb>
    viewed 30 March 2016
  • <http://fortune.com/2013/07/10/giving-a-speech-conquer-the-five-minute-attention-span/>viewed 30 March 2016
  • <http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/if-these-extraordinarily-powerful-images-of-a-dead-syrian-child-washed-up-on-a-beach-don-t-change-10482757.html> viewed 30 March 2016
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My previous blog post discussed the inherent differences in out multi-generational workforces. Following on from that, here are some practical suggestions to assist people managers to manage the expectations of everyone in the team.

1.  People all of all generations want to be respected.  

Everyone has different strengths to bring to the table, whether it’s years of real-world experience and accumulated corporate knowledge, a fresh young mind and novel approach to problem-solving or an amazing proficiency with the next big thing in social media.  

Promote a culture of active listening and discourage employees from generation-bashing eg: ‘I see Dad’s Army are manning the security desk again this morning!’ or ‘Have you seen the new intern in the accounts department? A flock of seagulls could be nesting in those dreadlocks!’

2. Be clear about expectations and career advancement opportunities within your organisation right from the start. 

Realistic information at recruitment fairs and job interviews, as well as ‘onboarding’ and induction programs can help to manage the high expectations of young people when they join the workforce. Remember they are often highly qualified and recognise that there can be blockages at the top as older generations remain in the workforce and this tension may need to be managed. The fact that globally this generation is highly qualified and it is a very competitive recruitment market means that young people need to distinguish themselves in the job market through experience. Exposing them to different experiences or projects (not necessarily promotion) can be a way to manage everyone’s expectations in the workplace.

3.  Emphasise shared goals but be flexible about the best way to reach them.  

Nobody likes being micro-managed and different generations may approach their work in a variety of ways. Gen Y are often exceptional multi-taskers, Gen X may prefer to work autonomously and some Boomers may be more comfortable working collaboratively. However, there are many roads to a shared destination. Be flexible. Encourage staff to communicate openly and to celebrate their creativity and diversity.

4.  Encourage inter-generational mentoring

Not everyone will feel at ease sitting in a classroom (particularly a computer training room) but everybody likes to learn new skills and feel valued by their employer. Consider offering a ‘skills exchange’ program where, for example, Boomers pair up with Gen Y to swap advice about leadership skills for help using new technologies.

5.  Leaders need to be authentic, trustworthy and motivating.  

Different generations may have different expectations about leadership but everyone wants to be able to trust and respect the ‘commander-in- chief’. The best leaders have a broad range of leadership styles and have the capacity to adapt to changing circumstances and different audiences.

6.  Encourage a healthy work-life balance for all age groups.

To retain valuable staff of all age groups for longer, ask people what they need in terms of a reasonable balance and as long as it doesn’t interfere with organisational goals or performance, try to accommodate it wherever possible.

7.  Change is hard on everyone.  

There is a widespread perception that older people are more resistant to change and that young people embrace it. However, research shows that the acceptance or rejection of change has far more to do with the perceived costs and benefits of that change than the age demographics of employees.

8.  Give constructive feedback and encourage life-long learning. 

Everybody likes to know how well they’re performing and feel that they have the skills to do their job well.  Research conducted by the Hay Group found that all generations cited ‘exciting and challenging work’ as the main reason for staying with their current employer. Give staff opportunities to keep growing and developing their skill sets and knowledge base, whatever their age.

9.  All generations have similar core values but they may express them differently.  

While people of different age groups may at times seem worlds apart in terms of interests and capabilities, when it comes to what really matters most, all generations put family at the top of their list. Other top values shared across the generational divide include: achievement, competence, happiness integrity, love, self-respect, responsibility and wisdom.

10.  Loyalty is about the context, not the age of your employees.  

There has been a lot written in recent times about younger generations being less loyal employees than older ones. However, research has found that number of hours worked by employees related more to the level of seniority within an organisation rather than age demographics, ie the greater the level of responsibility, the more hours worked.

If you would like to know more about human resource management, conflict resolution or leadership training opportunities for your organisation, please contact us.

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Generational diversity in the workforce is nothing new, but as people are living longer and retiring later, it is becoming more common to see four, or in some cases, even five different generations working side by side in organisations.   

It is not uncommon to see the workforce in both government and the private sector reflecting a growing number of 65+ year olds due to changes in accessing of entitlements and ensuring sufficient funds to support them for retirement into their 80s and beyond!

This is a very different work environment to even 10 years ago for many organisations.

This workplace reality can create many people management challenges as different generations can reflect different perspectives on communication styles, work/life balance, organisational change, implementation of technology, leadership style, expectations of employers and paths for career progression for example. 

Although stereotyping is always a risk, there is some value on reflecting on the different generational experiences and how that can impact on the workplace environment.

So how are the different generations characterised?

  • Traditionalists, also known as the Silent Generation (born between 1928 and 1945).     

Although only comprising around two per cent of the current workforce, many working Traditionalists now hold very senior and powerful positions, eg members on Boards of Directors.

  • Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964),

Accounting for about 29 per cent of the workforce, the 2008 Global Financial Crisis (GFC) hit the superannuation funds of this group hard. Many have delayed their retirement plans and are still working full-time, much to their disappointment and simultaneous annoyance of some of the younger generations coming through! Changes to superannuation access rules have hit this group the hardest with the least amount of time to recover from the changes.

  • Gen X, also known as the MTV generation (born between 1965 and 1979)

This group makes up about 34 per cent of today’s workforce. Many are now at the midpoint in their careers and hold strong positions in key leadership roles.

  • Generation Y, also known as Millennials (born between 1980 and 1994)

Comprising of about 34 per cent of the workforce and this group are now in the early stages of their careers. Often described as the most highly qualified generation (and of course as a result lumbered with large HECS debts they are keen to pay off!)

  • Generation Z, also known as iGens or Post-Millenials (born between 1995 and 2009).

Often confused with Millenials, the oldest of this group are now just beginning to enter the labour market and currently make up less than one per cent of the workforce. Their experience of being born into a world of fast paced technology reflecting constant and rapid change has manifested itself particularly in different expectations to other generations around how we communicate and feedback in the workplace, in what format and how often.

Just as in any diverse mix, the potential for conflicts are clear.

Stereotypes abound about each of these groups, eg that Traditionalists favour a ‘command and control’ management style and resist change, Boomers are condescending workaholics, Gen X are cynical and disrespectful of authority, Gen Y are tech-savvy narcissists who need constant attention and Gen Z are risk-adverse, untrusting Snapchatters with an attention span of eight seconds!

It’s not always easy to separate the myths from the reality and I want to focus on the areas that unite, rather than divide, people.

Jennifer Deal, a leading research scientist with the US Center for Creative Leadership, argues that intergenerational conflict has more to do with miscommunication and misunderstandings than anything else. Her findings, outlined in the book, Retiring the Generation Gap: How Employees Young & Old Can Find Common Ground (2007) are based on seven years of research with more than
3,000 corporate leaders.  

According to Deal, while it is natural that people of different ages will see the world in different ways, the so-called generation gaps are more commonly “fuelled by common insecurities and the desire for clout”.

Tolbize (2008), similarly found that “Generational conflict is more likely to arise from errors of attribution and perception, than from valid differences.”

So how do you manage the age mix and promote intergenerational cohesion in your workplace? 

My next blog provides some helpful strategies, but if you would like to discuss the needs of your organisation, please get in touch.


  • Deal, J, (2007) Retiring the Generation Gap: How Employees Young & Old Can Find Common Ground, Jossey Bass, San Fransisco
  • <http://www.amanet.org/training/articles/The-Myth-of-Generational-Differences-in-the-Workplace.aspx> viewed 26 March 2016
  • <https://www.haygroup.com/downloads/de/haygroup_thought_paper_multigen%20workforce.pdf> viewed 26 March 2016
  • <http://growingleaders.com/blog/generation-z-differs-generation-y/> viewed 26 March 2016
  • <http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/05/11/millennials-surpass-gen-xers-as-the-largest-generation-in-u-s-labor-force/> viewed 27 March 2016
  • Tolbize, Anick, 2008 ‘Generational differences in the workplace’, <http://rtc.umn.edu/docs/2_18_Gen_diff_workplace.pdf> viewed 28 March 2016
  • <http://www.tomorrowtodayglobal.com/2007/07/25/retiring-the-generation-gap-how-employees-young-old-can-find-common-ground-by-jennifer-deal/> viewed 28 March 2016
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Posted by on in Stakeholder Management

Feedback from customers, as well as internal and external organisational stakeholders, provides us with a valuable opportunity to identify ways to continuously improve human resource management across the business. 

The opportunities are only available if the private or public sector organisations are brave enough to capture the feedback, analyse the trends and proactively drive improvements!

Organisations can use a number of methods to source and channel stakeholder feedback, for example;

  • internal and external surveys,
  • feedback cards,
  • complaint processes,
  • blogs or service comments and testimonials. 
  • Performance management on an individual or team basis for example through KPIs.

Much of that feedback inevitably relates to staff performance, both good and poor.

On the upside, positive feedback can provide a valuable opportunity to reward and acknowledge teams in a timely manner.

Just as significantly, negative feedback should be seen by organisations as a thermometer of the business unit. Effective complaint management can be a powerful early warning system of deeper people management issues that need to be addressed.

The key then becomes how to efficiently capture the data, and use that information to identify and implement sustainable improvements in people management processes and systems.

Stakeholder complaints

Complaints from internal and external stakeholders often indicate one or more of the following people management processes needs review;

  • Recruitment processes
  • Induction processes
  • Training and development
  • Workforce planning affecting service delivery (staffing or deployment models)
  • Performance management
  • Conduct management
  • Work, Health and Safety
  • HR policy design and/or implementation
  • Welfare management

What do you need to do?

The first thing to do is to ensure you have a structured process around regularly sourcing and capturing complaints and feedback.

The next step is to analyse that data objectively and really consider the various issues that may sit behind the negative comments.

Build the discussion on feedback into your regular team meetings and communication processes. This depersonalises feedback in many situations and helps to focus on the issues, rather than the person. Issue-based resolution will often result in more long term and positive outcomes. Actively involve your teams in the process as they will offer a valuable and different perspective in problem solving.

If you would like assistance in developing a feedback management system and/or training and development in this important area for your team please contact us.

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In recent times, a number of large, high-profile organisations - such as Microsoft, Accenture, Adobe, Juniper and GE - have scaled back or dropped end-of-year reviews because they are not simply delivering the expected results, ie adding value to the business, encouraging  positive performance and providing an effective framework to deal with performance gaps.

So what’s the situation right now? How well would the stakeholders in your workplace rate your performance management program? 

Is it successful in retaining your best and brightest employees, boosting employee performance and building a positive work culture?

Does the program have credibility or is it seen as something to be endured to keep senior management happy?

Following on from the previous blog the next step in building a successful performance management program is -

Step 3: Develop strategies that engage people throughout

  • Ensure the policy clearly articulates the process for employee performance, ie how often performance will be reviewed, the methodology that will be used and the basis of any scoring system?
  • Ensure your process includes the opportunity for meaningful input from the team member – can they contribute to the discussion or is it one way only?
  • Create transparent business rules around remuneration policies that clearly outline any bonus or incentive schemes in place.
  • Invest in the KPI/goal setting part of the process. Really take some time to get this part right. Goal setting is a high risk area in terms of demotivating people if the goals are arbitrarily determined without sufficient opportunity for input. Most people have a very good antenna for judging whether their manager/leader is authentically interested in their views or not. Employees are far more likely to take ownership of goals if they provided input into their development.
  • Create a ‘clear line of sight’ with linkages to strategic and business planning goals to build engagement. This linkage is very important, in helping the whole team to understand the direction of the business, major priorities for the year ahead, and how each every individual is contributing to those goals through their work.
  • Use the SMART goals formula in creating goals that are: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timed.

Step 4: Upskill those responsible for implementing the program

Let’s be honest. Often the problem with performance management is not the program itself but the way in which it has been implemented.

  • Build communication skills for managers. We all know that not every manager is a great communicator or ‘people person’. They may have been promoted to their current role through another area of expertise altogether, climbed the ladder through many years of service, or been appointed to ‘act in the role’ years ago, during the great restructure of ’99!
  • Educate your managers on the process and how to have difficult conversations. Many people struggle with this type of difficult conversation and unfortunately, I see that lack of confidence manifest itself in ways such as delaying or avoiding performance conversations for extended periods of time. This usually creates further problems for the workplace as both good and poor performance is not appropriately addressed.
  • I have also heard horror stories of some managers engaging in the process with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer and others who try to deliver ‘criticisms’ so gently that the key message is lost altogether on the intended recipient.

This isn’t fair on anybody and certainly won’t add value to your organisation.

Step 5: Evaluate your program regularly


  • Feedback from the stakeholders on how well the program is meeting the objectives.
  • Useful information for the team member to reflect on their performance, but also to provide the organisation information to undertake more strategic HR analysis (for example, L&D, succession planning).
  • How many opportunities have arisen to acknowledge high performance and achievement.
  • How well poor performance is addressed and lifted to expectations.

The good news is, many PPM skills can be taught!  If you would like to know more about how to maximise performance management in your organisation, please contact us

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Performance management is a topic that tends to polarise many in the workplace.

In this blog, I am using the term to describe the whole performance management framework, not just strategies designed to address poor or remedial performance. Similar terms include appraisals, performance reviews, annual reviews etc.

Perceptions about the ‘why’ behind it and the ‘how’ we do it can often become a trigger to disengage teams and make managers feel inadequate and frustrated*.

Are you continuing to make a significant investment in time and energy yet the outcome has failed to contribute to building a positive performance culture? Sound familiar? You are not alone. 

Everyone recognises that the ability to develop and maintain a high performance culture is a critical characteristic of successful organisations. The process around that positive culture provides an important opportunity to: 

  • recognise, retain and reward your best performers.
  • encourage positive and sustained changes in behaviour.
  • promote a culture of accountability and transparency.
  • facilitate the achievement of individual and organisational goals.

So, while we know it makes sense to have a strong and meaningful performance management framework, the big question is how do we create it?  How can you make this expensive investment actually work for us and not against us!

It’s not something that can be achieved overnight but here’s a few ideas that might help:

Step 1: Do your homework

  • Reflect on what is a realistic program for your organisation.  Creating performance management processes that inevitably fail on implementation sends the wrong message to your teams about your leadership and undermines positive organisational culture. 
  • Consider a flexible and layered program that includes regular opportunities for informal feedback as well as more formal and documented systems.
  • Research the most successful schemes that are out there for your industry.  What works well? What parts could be integrated into your business?
  • Even in large organisations with generic schemes, some units manage the performance management process better than others. How they manage to engage staff is worth investigating, particularly if as a manager performance management reporting is a mandatory part of your role.
  • Consult on the framework with your teams and get their input on the best way to design, implement and monitor a positive performance management scheme.

Step 2: Get the building blocks right.

  • Review the components of the process to ensure that all your HR policies and procedures that touch on performance are current and consistent.
  • Differentiate in your documentation between poor conduct and poor performance.  The management response required in both circumstances can be quite different but both requires transparent guidelines and process.
  • Align position descriptions.  Use the performance management process as a regular opportunity to discuss the current roles to identify any significant changes to the duties involved.  This will also help you to identify any skill gaps or other professional development needs.

In my next blog, I discuss strategies to build engagement throughout the process and also the importance of managers developing their skills to leverage all potential opportunities offered by a robust framework.

In the meantime, if you would like to know more about creating and implementing an effective organisational performance management process, please contact us.

* Research conducted by PwC in the UK in June 2015, with 97 large companies (turning over £100 m per year) and 1038 employees found: “... growing frustration from employees and managers with the year-end performance process leading many organisations to focus on creating a continuous feedback culture to take the emphasis off the year-end appraisal.)”

Source: <http://pwc.blogs.com/press_room/2015/07/more-companies-planning-to-ditch-end-of-annual-performance-reviews-and-ratings-but-will-employees-be.html> Viewed 30 January 2016.

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In Part 1 of my article on workforce planning, I discussed the importance of clearly identifying where your organisation is heading and what internal and external drivers are shaping your business direction.

In Part 2, I’d like to give you some tips for getting the balance of skills and experience right in your organisation. 

Once you have determined the optimum organisational structure and identified the skill sets you require for the future, focus on these two key questions:

  • What strategies are available to you to ensure your staffing mix meets your organisation’s requirements? 
  • How can you ensure you have the right capacity in terms of staff numbers, structure and skill set?

If it helps, take a snapshot of where you are currently. A comprehensive audit is often the best way to establish a baseline. However, I understand this can be time-consuming. If you work for a large organisation or government agency, explore the option that others in the organisation may be collection people management data as part of other reporting requirements to assist you.

Information that can be used to objectively review the current position of your organisation includes:

  • Staff demographics and staff turnover trends
  • Current roles, grades or classifications in the organisation
  • Staff numbers and employment mode (eg. full time, part time)
  • Employment status (eg. permanent, casual, contract)
  • Short term or temporary staff
  • Qualifications held
  • Skills and competencies currently held
  • Number of employees in training positions
  • Locations of staff
  • Salary rates and HR budget figures
  • Awards and agreements.

Analysing this information will help you identify those areas which need attention and action.

Once you have this data at your fingertips, consider some of the HR options available to align your staffing mix with your overall business goals.

HR options will typically include one or more of the following:

  • Development or improvement of retention strategies
  • Training and education
  • Restructuring
  • Succession planning
  • Targeted recruitment
  • Redeployment
  • Redundancy program
  • Retrenchment program.

Finally, it’s always important to review how effective the HR strategies you have used in the past have been in facilitating your overall business objectives. Monitoring, evaluating, and if necessary, modifying these strategies regularly will ensure you have a flexible, living plan and that you are using all the resources available to you to meet your organisation’s needs and goals.

If you would like to know more about human resource planning for your organisation, please contact us.

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The New Year is always a good time for organisations to plan, develop plans and develop practical strategies to achieve personal and organisational goals.  

Your HR plans should be linked to the broader strategic plan of the organisation and the business plans and the short, medium and long-term goals outlined.

HR Planning involves the key questions:

  • What are the skills and capabilities I need to support and lead the organisation in the short, medium and long term future?
  • What is the organisational structure that we need to meet our business goals in the short, medium and long term future?

Getting the right people into the right positions at the right time is far easier said than done!  

The best people managers understand this and know it doesn’t happen by accident. It is a deliberate strategy and requires careful thought and consideration.

Increasing competition among companies to recruit and retain the best ‘talent’, rapid technological growth (often outpacing the skill sets and training of existing workers), reduced operating budgets and constant pressures to increase efficiency are all factors that need to be addressed.

Additionally, Australia’s ageing population, and retiring baby boomers in particular, are depleting many organisations of some of their most experienced and knowledgeable employees, often before succession plans (if they are in place at all) are ripe for fruition.

Workforce planning represents a major challenge for HR so I have decided to devote my next two blogs to workforce planning.

In this article (Part 1), I’d like to outline some helpful points to consider when planning your HR requirements and in the next one (Part 2), I’ll discuss some strategies you can use to create the right staffing mix for your organisation.

I hope these suggestions will help you to respond more confidently to changes in your workplace operating environment throughout the year and stay on track to meet and exceed!  your professional goals for 2016.

Where are you headed?

Usually, the most constructive place to start is by conducting an ‘environmental scan’.

To do this, consider the following questions:

  • What external factors are occurring in your industry or sector that could potentially impact on your organisation and therefore your team? (eg new or emerging competitors entering the market, technological changes, economic growth/downturn, the age profile of your workforce, potential legislative changes that may impact on your business)
  • Where can you readily source the most credible data on industry or sector trends to make informed decisions about the staffing mix you need?
  • Are there any current legislative or political issues that may be relevant? (eg expected changes to funding models, training requirements for staff, new taxes likely to come into effect in 2016)
  • Do you need to adapt the types of services and products you provide to meet the changing needs of your customer base?
  • Are you intending to expand, reduce and/or restructure your workforce?
  • What organisational structure would work best?
  • What are the key skills your organisation needs? (including technical, operational management and people management skills)
  • Do you have enough people with those skills? What are the time frames to acquire those skills?
  • Can you grow those skills internally (ie through staff development, succession planning) or do you need to recruit them in? What are the timeframes involved?
  • What internal information do you need to source? ( eg demographics, retirements, predicted staff turnover, succession plans, planned absences, staff surveys)

Taking some time to consider your external and internal environments and taking stock of your internal resources will help you to embrace 2016 with the calm self-confidence of an experienced driver, well- prepared for all conditions and ready to enjoy the journey.

If you would like to know more about human resource planning for your organisation, please contact us.

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Posted by on in Workplace training

Short. Focused. Relevant.

The PSW HR Solutions short course program is designed to present essential skills and knowledge in an easily digestible format of just one or two days. Developed and presented by industry professionals who draw not only on best practice from around the world, but their own years of actual experiences managing teams and operating in challenging operating environments.  

Our programs are interactive, activity based and provide practical opportunities to develop skills that you can apply directly into the workplace.

2016 has seen us add to our regional locations and we would encourage organisations operating in regional or rural centres to contact us for learning and development programs for your team. We understand the challenge of accessing high quality training that regional areas encounter!

We offer the following short course programs:

  • Investigation skills
  • Stepping into Leadership Roles
  • Dealing with Difficult People
  • Meaningful meetings made easy
  • Building Resilience
  • Creating High Performance Teams
  • Managing Challenging Behaviours
  • Preparing for Difficult Conversations
  • Taking Control in a Crisis

All our short course programs can be tailored to meet your organisational requirements. 
Please contact us to build your own custom made program delivered by experienced managers and educators.

All our short courses can be delivered conveniently on site around Australia.

Please contact us for details.

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This blog continues the discussion on how to create a resilient team culture that is able to respond positively to the inevitable changes in the internal and external environments that characterise modern workplaces.

In the previous blog we discussed the key elements for leaders to:

1. Demonstrate their leadership by building self awareness and role modelling positive behaviours

2. The importance of communication as a tool to create resilient teams.

Following on from this, the below details the importance of delivering on your promises, ensuring continual development and nurturing of relationships.


10. Navigate the path forward for your team. Work together to identify the key challenges, risks and milestonesahead. 

Break major goals down into manageable steps and manage the risks through analysis, scenario-planning, tracking and other sensible responses. Having a plan, particularly in periods of uncertainty, reduces anxiety that undermines team resilience.  Even where you are part of a larger organisation, as a team leader develop a plan with your team that they can focus on.

11. Help people get back to work, doing what they do best. 

Business continuity is important not just for the organisation and its customers. Routine and familiar tasks can be comforting in times of stress or adversity and help to restore a sense of ‘normality’ and self-confidence within your team.

12. Celebrate the wins when you do deliver.

Even small wins can be beneficial – remind yourself and everyone else in the team to reflect on what has been achieved.  Celebrating successes can increase motivation and remind everyone of their contributions and abilities to perform – even under pressure!


13. Be creative in identifying opportunities to develop your own skills and that of your team. 

Encourage mentoring within the team and/or offer ‘stretch’ assignments to team members.  The most resilient teams often have overlapping skills sets which creates capacity and flexibility.  Flexibility in role leads to flexibility in thoughts and approaches which will strengthen your team.

14. Provide opportunities for team members to undertake additional learning and encourage them share it with everyone else. 

It doesn’t have to be costly or time-consuming. Look for a return on the investment for the whole group, particularly where they bring new ideas to the team. You might ask some members to do some internet research on a pertinent topic. Other development options can include project work, relieving and formal training.

15. Encourage diversity of thought – it is the key to innovation. 

Cultivate a team culture of sharing new ideas and providing respectful feedback. Encourage members to challenge assumptions that aren’t evidence-based to foster different and creative ways of thinking and doing things.


16. Actively nurture internal and external networks, including support networks for the team.

People need time out to feel socially connected in tough times. Celebrate team and individual achievements and other happy occasions through informal get-togethers.

17. Identify opportunity to collaborate with other teams and stakeholders and deliberately construct ‘buy in’opportunities

Cultivate as many positive relationships as you can to build support for your team.  Being able to connect with others is critical and strong and constructive relationships need to be a priority investment.   Building relationships and maintaining the ability to connect with others, particularly during difficult periods will role model positive workplace behaviours that will sustain your teams through both good times and challenging periods!

For more great ideas about how to team build team resilience, please contact us.

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As I’ve travelled around Australia this year, one of the most common questions I’ve been asked by   middle and senior managers (with varying degrees of desperation) is: ‘How can we build more resilient teams?’

It’s a good question and in response here is the first of a 2-part blog specifically focusing on how to build and maintain resilient teams. 

This year I have worked with organisations that have undergone significant organisational change processes, economic downturns, leadership changes, major IT implementations and even rapid expansion. 

Each factor has had a significant impact on the workplace and has put teams under pressure.

Undoubtedly, teams with low resilience can cost organisations many thousands of dollars in lost revenue through missed opportunities, more frequent and serious errors, increased sick leave and greater staff turnover.  

Sometimes poor team resilience causes internal divisions and personal resentments that go on for weeks, months or even years. Not surprisingly, the quality, creativity and timeliness of the team’s output suffers and the negative cycle continues in a downward spiral.

So what can you do to create or strengthen team resilience?

Here’s some practical ideas that can help:


1. Start with your own resilience.  

Be self-aware of your own level of resilience. Understand your triggers and proactively monitor how well your own strategies are working. Identify and develop positive habits that will support you during challenging periods.

2. Role-model the positive behaviours you want to see in others.  

You set the standard of behaviour for your team, so demonstrate your ability to keep your own emotional responses to challenges under control at work. Use positive communication and demonstrate problem solving techniques that are optimistic and constructive. Role model flexibility and agility in decision making and show pride and accountability in your work. Don’t just talk about it. Do it. Show you team that you don’t just bounce back – you bounce forward!

3. Encourage flexibility and autonomy wherever possibleso your team members feel moreempowered.  

Times of change can make people feel like they have lost control over their future,so devolve decision-making wherever you can*. Show your team that you trust them, have faith in their abilities and want them to be resourceful so they can grow and succeed. Encourage team and individual problem-solving to enhance their self-confidence, accountability and job satisfaction.

4. Recognise and reward people who experiment and show initiative.  

If a team member tries something new and fails, be supportive. Ask them what they learned from the experience and what they’d do differently next time. Don’t underestimate the power of these opportunities to build trust.


5. Help your team members adapt to change, by actively listening.

Engage in honest and open discussion with team members, individually and as a group. Invest time really listening to your team during tough times. Focus on your verbal and non verbal communication.

6. Use positive language and humour (where appropriate) to build team cohesion. Discourage negative language, snap judgements and black-and-whitethinking patterns.  

Challenge undermining behaviours such as defensiveness, gossip, eye-rolling or finger-pointing.  Develop the confidence to have those difficult conversations with team members who undermine individual or team resilience.  Ignoring or turning a blind eye to destructive communication habits is very dangerous!  

7. Meet with your team often.  

Be visible and present! Team members need and want to hear from their leader when they are facing uncertainty or adversity. Clarify roles, priorities and goals of the team. In times of significant organisational change or upheaval, calmly share whatever new and relevant information you can, as soon as you can. Ditch the management-speak. There’s no need to  ‘drill down’, ‘climb the strategic staircase’ or ‘cascade relevant information’ – just talk in plain English.  

8. Deal with issues as they arise.

Resilient teams work collaboratively and are characterised by mutual trust and support. They are not afraid to admit weaknesses and mistakes and ask for help when they need it. Encourage team members to talk through any current or emerging issues before they start to catastrophise and snowball matters to impossible levels.

9. Acknowledge even the small achievements of team members and look for opportunities to acknowledge progress. 

Remember to say ‘thank you’ and ‘well done’. Everyone needs to feel valued and that their work has meaning and purpose, no matter how junior their role or seemingly mundane their task. Remind all team members, individually and together, how their work helps the organisation, community and/or customers.

* Research undertaken by Blessing and White and published in A Study of Voluntary Effort in the Work Force (1996) found that old-fashioned ‘command and control’ work environments don’t encourage people to think for themselves and create ‘learned helplessness’ in staff.  Ten years later, another study of 320 small businesses conducted by researchers at Cornell University found that businesses that gave their staff autonomy grew four times faster than those that didn’t. Source: http://www.workingatmcmaster.ca/med/document/facilitating-resilience-in-the-workplace-1-37.pdf

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You’ve probably heard of the term ‘emotional intelligence' (EI)  which was popularised by psychologist and science journalist Dr Daniel Goldman in the mid 1990s.  

His book Emotional Intelligence was on The New York Times bestseller list for 18 months and later translated into 40 languages worldwide. Over five million copies of the book are now in print and a number of spin-off books by the author and others have followed.

So what does EI really mean and why is it such a big deal in the workplace?

Goldman’s groundbreaking ideas centred on the notion that people who have strong self-awareness, self-restraint/self-control, motivation, empathy and people skills, can and often do achieve more success in life than others who may have higher intelligence or IQ scores, but can’t demonstrate the same abilities interacting with people.   

Twenty years and thousands of behavioural research papers on, emotional intelligence is now widely regarded as the special ‘X-factor’ that helps some people achieve more than their peers. People with high EI will progress to leadership roles and other sought-after positions within the workplace, often over people who are technically stronger or rated as ‘more intelligent.’

The good news is, unlike our IQ which is pretty much set for life from childhood, EI can be learned and improved over time by anyone, at any age. We now know the brain has far more ‘plasticity’ than previously thought. However, you will need patience, determination and a willingness to practise your EI skills at every opportunity. It’s like developing a new muscle – the more you use it, the stronger and more noticeable it becomes.

Here’s some practical ideas for building your EI at work:

1.  Start with your self-awareness.  

Take an EI quiz to determine your current capability levels in this area. Ask a trusted colleague or friend to help you identify your triggers,  your strengths and weaknesses are in terms of your personal insights and how well you relate to other people. Decide what specific area/s you need to work on most and set yourself small achievable goals each week.

2.  Listen to your own inner sound track.  

Are you naturally an optimist or pessimist? What tune are you singing to yourself each day? Negative thoughts and patterns of behaviour can build up over years and be hard to change. If you catch yourself thinking the worst about yourself or somebody else, try to reframe those thoughts in a more positive way. Recognise the power of negative self talk on your emotional well being.

3.  Be curious about other people and try to really empathise with what they might be feeling or experiencing.  

Listen carefully to what they’re saying without making any judgements about them. Watch their body language for any non-verbal cues and try to give genuine positive feedback to others whenever you can.

4.  Practise your self-restraint and self-control.  

Next time someone says or does something that triggers negative emotions in you at work, take a deep breath and resist the urge to react.  You may say something in the heat of the moment that you later regret. Even the act of showing restraint is empowering.  If it’s important, make a note to discuss it with them later when you can compose yourself professionally. Don’t hold grudges – it takes up too much valuable energy!  Learn from past mistakes (yours and others), then let them go.  

5.  Check your ‘gratitude attitude’.  

Your job may not be perfect but do you have a great team, the opportunity to help others, a comfortable office or maybe even work in a really convenient location, close to home? This isn’t just Pollyanna stuff. Role model the language of gratitude. After a while it will become part of your thinking habit and won’t require as much conscious thought to remember all the positives. Researchers have also found that people who take the time to work on their gratitude attitude each day, report increased energy levels, more positive moods and a greater sense of physical well being.

6.  Learn to embrace change, rather than fearing it.  

Change is predictable but it still fills people with fear. Switch your lens. Change is also an important part of renewal and growth in nature and in business. Anticipate it, talk about it and normalise it through your language and your behaviours. Be disciplined and challenge yourself when you automatically start to associate change with negative thoughts. The ability to respond flexibly and adapt to change is another characteristic of people with high EI.

7.  Practise good self care.  

Regular exercising, getting enough sleep, limiting your caffeine and alcohol intake, making time for relaxation and eating sensibly can all help you regulate your emotions and be the best ‘you’ you can be – at home and at work.

For more great practical ideas about how we can help you or your team, please contact us.

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Some workplace roles involve managing potentially or actual heightened or volatile situations on a regular basis. 

Circumstances can arise when behaviours extend past ‘difficult’ and into challenging conduct which requires more sophisticated skill sets in order to positively respond and manage. Unfortunately, managing situations that involve elevated emotions and potential physical harm in workplaces is increasing.

Challenging behaviour can be described as ‘those behaviours that threaten the quality of life and/or physical safety of an individual or others’.* It sometimes exists on a continuum and may include one or more of the following:

  • open or passive aggression
  • physical or emotional harassment (e.g. verbal abuse or threats, bullying, racism, stalking)
  • refusing to co-operate with authority figures
  • refusing to comply with organisational codes of conduct, policies and procedures
  • theft or property damage.
  • self-harm, including alcohol or drug abuse

* Source

So how do you cope with these types of behaviours, reduce potential harm and restore calm in the workplace?

The key is in developing the skills to respond rather than react.

This is much harder than you might think because like all animals, humans are hard-wired to react in either a ‘fight or flight’ mode in threatening situations. Overriding our instinctive reactions takes skill, practice and commitment. 

Here are our top ‘DOs’ and ‘DON’Ts’ for de-escalating heightened situations in the workplace:

1.  DO stay calm so you can think rationally and use your professional judgement to assess the risks.

2.  DO focus on your communication skills. Use a calm, neutral tone of voice and be very conscious of your language so as not to inflame the situation.

3.  DO listen respectfully to the person. Ask open-ended questions to identify the issues and reply using ‘reflective listening’ skills to show that you are paying attention. Allow the person ‘vent’ and don’t interrupt them.

4.  DO be clear, concise and unemotional about what you are seeking from them. Using simple language, outline the impact of their behaviour(s) on others and the workplace as a whole.  Calmly explain the boundaries for behaviour and the consequences of non-compliance in terms of simple choices.

5.  DON’T be afraid of silences in the conversation. They may feel long and awkward to you but they are giving the other person breathing space and time to think about what you’ve said, reflect on their current situation and make decisions about what they do next.

6.  DO focus on your non-verbal communication skills. These are the most critical skills in a heightened situation – be very conscious of the signals you may be (inadvertently) sending.  In particular, using some eye contact (if culturally appropriate) to communicate during heated situations is vital.

7.  DON’T ever turn your back on someone behaving erratically or aggressively. If possible, try to put some kind of physical barrier (e.g. a desk or chair) between you and the other person.

8.  DO stand at a slight angle away from the other person, rather than facing them head-on which could be construed as confrontational.  

9.  DON’T respond to challenging questions or personal provocations. If the person questions your authority, redirect the conversation to the issue at hand.  

10.  DO respond immediately if you feel physically threatened. Use an open-handed pushback with your hand out at shoulder level in front of you.  Include clear verbal instructions, e.g. ‘Stop! Get back!’

11.  DON’T be a hero and physically intervene unless it is completely unavoidable.

12.  DO de-brief with others involved after the event. It may help you to deal with the stress of what happened, get a better understanding of how the situation unfolded and plan more effectively for the future.

For more information on options to develop skills in managing challenging behaviours for yourself or your teams, please contact us.

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Posted by on in Performance Management

How productive are your workplace meetings? 

Are the outcomes worth the significant investment?  

Is attending unproductive meetings just adding to your already hectic work schedule? 

Recent research has found that the average officer worker spends 62 hours a month in meetings and that 31 of those hours – or exactly half! – are considered unproductive or a waste of time. The estimated salary cost to businesses from this lost productivity is a whopping US$37 billion dollars each year.

The ability to hold a successful and productive meeting is a dying art. Even with the wealth of technological aids for modern organisations, many meetings still lack focus, fail to deliver outcomes, fail to engage staff and often become a source of great frustration.  

The ability to chair a successful meeting, even at an informal level, is a direct reflection on our professionalism. If our meetings are not achieving anything, this perception can become an extension of how others perceive us. The reality is many people are not confident in setting agendas, navigating procedural motions, understanding meeting rules and etiquette, recording action items and taking minutes to make the most of the forum.

In order to get the most from resource-intensive meetings, organisations should regularly review the way they organise, conduct and follow-up on them. 

Here are the top ten tips from PSW HR Solutions on how to have more successful meetings:

1. Define

Define your purpose – why do you need to have a meeting?  Is there another communication channel possible that will achieve the same or an even better result in a shorter time-frame?

2. Plan

If you must have a meeting, plan it carefully. Who needs to be there? Do you need the entire team or just the key decision-makers?  Invite everyone who needs to be there and no-one else.

3. Agenda  

Develop your agenda collaboratively to ensure relevance of discussion topics and ‘buy in’ from intended participants. Set time limits for each item. Rank agenda items in order of priority and allow more time for complex or controversial items.

4. Roles & Responsibilities  

Assign clear meeting roles and responsibilities. For formal or structured meetings, make sure the role of minute taker is assigned to someone appropriately skilled for that task. The same goes for the chairperson and/or facilitator. These two roles are crucial, particularly for large meetings.

5. Venue  

Is the meeting venue fit-for-purpose? Room size, accessibility, ventilation, lighting, equipment and technology all matter, especially for long and/or important meetings.

6. Preparation

Send out any background reading materials well in advance of the meeting. This is not only a courteous and professional practice but it will help to foster more thoughtful and considered discussion at the meeting itself.

7. Procedures & Protocols

Follow agreed meeting procedures and protocols. Anticipate any contentious or controversial issues that may be raised and/or potentially difficult personalities who may be attending. Make sure you have strategies up your sleeve to deal with them. For example, seat potentially difficult participants close to the chairperson or facilitator, on their right hand side, if possible. Brief the chairperson or facilitator thoroughly in advance about the meeting’s purpose and any issues or invitees that may be of concern.

8. Participation

Encourage active participation and questions for more meaningful and honest discussions.

9. Evaluation

Don’t wait till the end of the meeting to evaluate it!  Then it’s too late to do anything about it. Ask participants during the meeting for their feedback on how the objectives are being met and take their feedback on board without taking it personally.

10. Actions & Outcomes

Follow-up on any agreed action items and outcomes from the meeting as soon as possible. Be sure to send out the minutes promptly, otherwise the momentum for change/progress may be lost, and key participants will be less likely to attend your next meeting.


It makes good business sense to take meeting management seriously. Improvements can be simple and inexpensive to implement and the potential for positive results can be enormous.

For more information and help on how to develop better meeting skills, including useful strategies for engaging and energising participants, troubleshooting tips and essential competencies for your  21st century meetings toolbox, please get in touch.

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Posted by on in Workplace training

As professional mediators, the PSW HR Solutions team are often asked by clients for advice about how to handle difficult conversations in the workplace.  

It is a predictable part of working life that we will need to have difficult conversations with clients, staff and stakeholders at some point. Many managers rely on their position to ‘manage’ people rather than developing the skills to lead through engagement and the ability to influence. 

Proactively managing difficult conversations can be a litmus test for many people in the workplace.  Unfortunately, many people find the process intimidating and go to great lengths to avoid a personal conversation.  Alternatively, a clumsy response can inflame the potential conflict which makes the situation even more uncomfortable for everyone!

When handled well, difficult conversations can be a good thing.  

They create opportunities for people to find common ground, confirm expectations around behaviour and performance and create improved understanding. Open and personal communication allows ongoing organisational problems/ festering issues that often affect others in the workplace to be positively managed. Confident management of challenging conversations can be the catalyst for new or improved workplace practices and processes being implemented. They may even create the space for new perspectives to be considered and/or result in a change in management direction or thinking.

So how do you get from the ‘Houston, we have a problem’ stage to sustainable positive outcomes? 

A great place to start is with your preparation and planning skills. Here are our top tips to improve your confidence in managing even the hardest workplace conversations:

1.  Prepare before the discussion. Consider time, date and place. Your goal is to progress the situation positively, not make it worse. Reflect on what the key points of the discussion need to be so you can stay focused and don’t get side-tracked or forget important things you need to mention.  The location can be critical in platforming positive outcomes – where is the best location to raise contentious issues?

2.  Do your research to ensure the information you intend to provide is accurate. Distinguish between opinions, hearsay and facts. Don’t make assumptions about the other person’s motives or intentions – and don’t assume that they will be able to see things from your point of view.

3.  Be clear in your own mind about what you want to achieve from the conversation.  Are you just trying to raise the other person’s awareness of a difficult issue or aiming for a change in work performance, personal attitude or behaviour?  Try to summarise your goal/s in two or three short sentences. What outcome from the discussion would you consider to be a satisfactory result? Can it be measured. If so, how?

4.  What will your opening statement be? This could set the tone for the entire conversation so think about it carefully. Mentally rehearse what you want to say in your mind. Picture yourself calmly outlining what the issues and impacts are for the individual concerned, the team, and the workplace as a whole. Can you think of a way to start and finish on a positive and supporting note? 

5.  How would you feel if you were on the receiving end of the information that you will provide? Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Would you feel fear, embarrassment, anger or shame?  Anticipate and prepare for the person to ‘vent’ or become emotional.  Anticipate the range of reactions and plan for those responses.

5.  Focus on your communication skills – verbal, non verbal and active listening skills. Keep the language around the discussion as objective and unemotional as possible. Your capacity to communicate assertively and confidently will be a key factor in your ability to manage difficult conversations positively. 

6.  Consider what your role may have been in the situation. Don’t just rely on your own judgement.  Ask a trusted colleague for their perspective. You may not be fully aware how your own actions or words have influenced the behaviour, attitude or decisions of others.  If, on reflection, you feel you may be at fault in some way, be prepared to be honest and open about your part in the matter.

7.  Show respect for the other person. Don’t ambush them with an unexpected meeting or tip-toe around the subject in fear of an imminent explosion. Be courageous and clearly articulate the reason for needing to have the conversation, i.e. be specific about the issue/s you want to talk about.  Book an agreed date and time to have the discussion. Most people appreciate a direct approach and authenticity far more than side-steps and false camaraderie.

8.  Be prepared to allow the other person to help come up with a solution or next steps forward.  This will show that you are listening, being open and flexible.  It may also mean the other party is more likely to respect and abide by whatever actions are agreed upon as a result of the discussion.

If you would like to speak to the PSW HR Solutions team about working with your management and leadership teams on how to handle the difficult conversations, please get in touch.

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Posted by on in Workforce Planning

Moving into new or expanded leadership roles can be both exciting and daunting. Many frontline or first time leaders often have strong technical or operational skills but, as any leader will tell you, it is the people management skills involved in successfully leading teams that are often described as the most critical!

For those experienced leaders, adapting and growing your leadership skills as your responsibilities or the size of your team expands can also challenge our confidence. The weight of expectation can be overwhelming so it becomes important to make the best possible start on the new leadership journey.

Here are some strategies to help you make the best possible start to fulfilling your leadership role.

1. Do your homework on the business unit as much as possible. Understand their role,  previous performance successes and disappointments, any external challenges they have faced recently or changes that may be imminent.

2.   Confirm the scope of your responsibilities, available resources, levels of decision making authority and ways in which your performance will be measured.  

3.   Spend some time on determining how your role and your team can add the best value to the organisation. Start to build your strategic thinking capability. Reflect on what the functions are of the team. Are there opportunities to improve the contribution to the organisation in the way the team delivers their services?

4.   Develop and confirm your ‘must do’ priorities for your first 3,6,9,12 months. This planning includes the preparation of your ‘100 day plan’ usually at the commencement of a new position which assists you to focus your energies and avoid becoming overwhelmed. Once developed the plan should be discussed with your senior managers and also your teams so that the focus of your efforts is clear and expectations can be clarified.

5.   Clearly communicate your vision or plan to the team. Where do we want to be in 12 months? What do we want to have achieved? What are our goals? How will we get there? How will we measure our performance?

6.   Discuss and confirm the communication methods that will work most effectively for your teams, senior managers and peers.  

7.   Define the culture you believe is necessary for the team. What behaviours are appropriate? What positive behaviours and attitudes need to be fostered? Once these have been defined you can communicate those expectations clearly to the team. What key organisational documents will support you in driving positive cultures?

8.   Make a concerted effort to personally connect with your team and one to one partnerships.

9.   Make a conscious and determined effort to make positive impressions at every opportunity in your new role. Convey your leadership through your communication and your actions by delivering on expectations with conviction and enthusiasm.

10. Invest in your network. Create a deliberate strategy to invest in building strong internal and external stakeholder partnerships. 

11. Manage the change process. Where you have a number of change projects identified, reflect on the priority, the expected outcome, the current engagement level of the team and implement the change program accordingly. It will be counterproductive to tackle too many fires at once. Focus on small wins initially to build your confidence and the confidence of those around you.

12. Deliver.  Deliver.  Deliver. New managers must deliver successful outcomes within reasonable time frames. Identify the priorities and focus your efforts on ensuring that projects of tasks are completed to a high standard. Resist the temptation to take on too many things at once for exactly this purpose. It will undermine your efforts to complete and this will affect your confidence.

For more information on options to develop confident and competent leaders in your  organisation, please contact us.

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Posted by on in Stakeholder Management

PSW HR Solutions have been working with several clients recently who are seeking to enhance the resilience of their teams. 

Significant and sustained organisational changes, negative media attention for an organisation and leadership changes have resulted in the resilience of team members being tested. 

People are worn down by the moving goal posts, ever challenging targets and uncertainty about their role and even their long-term future in tough economic environments. 

Workgroups with low resilience are often evidenced by the following HR challenges;

  • conflict in the workplace
  • low morale
  • staff turnover and absenteeism
  • low innovation and productivity

The good news is that people can always improve their capacity for resilience at any time in their life! 

Further, successfully leading your teams through challenging periods is actually an opportunity to build a culture of resilience and can strengthen the team – if it is managed well.

So how can we get our teams to move from the victim/blaming reaction to the learning/coping reaction?

Here are some strategies to help you create a resilient work culture

Evaluate Workload

Across public sector and private sector people are being asked to do more with less and it is critical to clearly discuss and clarify organisational expectations and priorities. You also need to ensure you carefully and objectively assess a healthy level of pressure versus unmanageable work demands. 

Many people thrive in challenging work environments but where this balance is out people quickly feel anxious and defeated. The key is open communication with your teams regularly about their workload.  Leverage the opportunities offered through the structured performance discussions processes.

Empower your people

Where people feel they have little control to influence decisions or events, particularly where they affect us directly, we become very stressed. We often do not know all the facts and that adds to the pressure. 

Where reasonable involve your teams in decision making at all levels, consult wherever possible to solve problems and offer a variety of ways for teams to provide feedback. 

Keeping people informed about decisions and providing opportunities to contribute builds engagement and creates a resilient culture.

Resource your teams

People managers have an important role in ensuring teams have adequate resources, training and technology to do the work required. It is vital to make a conscious effort to fix niggling problems quickly as they amplify our frustration in pressured environments.  Save the stress for the big-ticket items, not annoying technical or process problems!

Prioritise expenditure on creating improvements that enable people to meet their goals as easily as possible.  Focus on continually developing skills in your team and consider ways they can grow their capability with incremental challenges. Growth builds confidence which underpins resilience.

Create positive work relationships

People’s relationships with their colleagues and their managers can often define how they feel about work. Lack of support, aggressive and/or disengaged management styles will quickly demoralise the team.

To counteract this, build in routine  practices that actively create positive relationships within the team as part, for example open communication processes.  Communicate appropriate workplace conduct and ensure the standards around positive behaviours are maintained. You should also monitor your own leadership style when under pressure and reflect on whether you need to adapt your style to meet the current circumstances.

Create positive strategies to support change

Change is an inevitable part of our lives yet it is constantly recorded as one of the major triggers for stress. It is helpful for your teams if you acknowledge how stressful and challenging it can be. You can then build engagement in the process by celebrating even small wins along the way where you can. 

In addition, regular updates on progress are critical to keep teams energised. You can also role model positivity about the changes and consciously use positive language. This serves to encourage people to shift their thinking from focusing on what is lacking or going wrong towards what is working well and how they can build on it to create new opportunities.

For more information on options to develop a resilience culture in your organisation, please get in touch.

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